Closest Town: Stellenbosch
Grading: Intermediate to extreme | Duration: 90min - 5hrs
Configuration: Various options
Start Point: 3 Trailheads: Saaltjie, The Point and Quarry, but you have to sign in at the Main Gate
Access: Day or annual permit obligatory. MTO Trails do not take cash, so purchase online or with Snapscan, Zapper or credit card
Beware of: Heat and snakes in summer, trail runners and hikers on some shared trails
Facilities: Tea Garden, parking and ablutions at main gate
Cell Reception: 100% coverage
Premium and Curated Trails Only
The trails here are mostly challenging, but they’re super rewarding and you’ll be surrounded by spectacular scenery! The trails are managed by MTO Forestry and they’ve really upped the information on their website and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mtotrailsjonkershoek) to help you find your way in these rugged mountain plantations. Their myMTO App even allows you to
download detailed maps of the trails and buy permits online. Beginners might struggle a bit, even though the Circle Loop (10km) and Up and Over Trail (10.5km) are both rated Green. The other trail sections are clearly for advanced riders.
On your bike
Never-ending Story will still bang you down all the way to the dam. Phoenix comes complete with bridges and gritty, cambered ess-bends, but lay off the brakes to Avoid adding to the holes already gouging into the corners. Sweetly bermed single-track, gnarly hoicks and some serious technical double-black drops are sure to keep even the most hardcore trail freaks smiling. Best you check in with MTO (or the locals) re trail status before you saddle up to ride here …especially during ‘fire’ season. In short, let’s just say that the Jonkershoek MTB Trails are based
around the 10km gravel road Circle Loop traversing the valley floor. MTO has developed the trail network and to allow easier access you can now start at three different trailheads: Saaltjie, The Point and Quarry, depending on which section of the trails you want to attack first.
From the gate, follow the gravel road for 400m until you see a building on your left-hand side, turn left toward this and look out for some single-track peeling off to the right. This is the start of one of the climbs, fortunately a rather fun ascent along smooth single-track before passing through a few rock-garden sections. Most of the trails starting from the main gate are off to the left of the circle loop, with Fire Hut (2.4km) and Bosluis (1.1km) on the right.
Pedal higher and higher, crossing the various jeep-track contour loops on the way (Level 3 signals the top, and it is also from up here that most of the new Double-Black technical trails start). Turn right here and continue on the gravel road, keeping your eyes open for trail signage; the IMBA standard symbols are adhered to, so do not attempt Double-Black if you’re not an expert rider.
As a recap: Circle Loop, Up and Over and The Heads are doable for beginners. Never-ending Story, Red Phoenix and Bosluis are classified as moderate, with swooping and undulating single-track, generally smooth, but still with some roots and rocks. Advanced riders can start looking at Armageddon, Iron Monkey, Fire Hut, The Valley and Canary where you’ll hopefully find some chicken runs on the scariest obstacles, but the gradients are steep and you’ll negotiate drop-offs, jumps and large berms. Finally, there is The Plumber, a 1.6km technical downhill that should only be attempted by the experts!
Off The Bike:
Stellenbosch is South Africa’s second oldest town and, with its charming character, historic architecture and oak-lined avenues, it is a dream weekend destination. Wonderful wine farms, mountain hikes, exceptional trout fishing, stunning country stalls, delectable berry farms and quirky restaurants will keep you busy for days.
Best Time of Year:
There is no best time to ride Jonkershoek. Summer can get very hot, so plan to ride early in the day. Winter can be wet and you may be riding just below the snow line, so wear warm gear.
How to Get There:
Take the N1 out of Cape Town. Take the R304 off-ramp and proceed into Stellenbosch. Once on the R310, turn left into Merriman Avenue and follow the road for approx. 10km until you get to the Jonkershoek main gate. You have arrived in heaven.
www.mto.group / Tel: +27 (0)21 866 1512